For 2018

"Life is lived forward, but understood backward. It is not until we are down the road and we stand on the mountain looking back through the valley that we can appreciate the terrain God has allowed us to scale.” Jill Savage

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Death x 2 = January 30, 2003
A subject no one wants to talk about, yet its something that will come to everyone at one time or another, either through someone they love or even themselves. No picture today. This is a day for Chatty to remember and lament
Four years ago today, I was in a beautiful hospice, in a beautiful room, with my beautiful daughter and niece, and we were sitting with a beautiful woman, my mother.
It was just a matter of hours before she would die and we knew it. She was in the death coma, where her organs were shutting down, one at a time. She hadn't eating for about five days, seven is about as long as you can go. No water either. It sounds cruel, but the body sends out some substance to help with the pain and then there was the morphine. I can't say enough about the wonderful treatment my mom received at this hospice.
I had been with my mom all the way, our entire lives, so while I had deep regrets having to put her in a nursing home the year prior, I decided to let myself off the hook after awhile, because I was with her physically, mentally, and spiritually all the way. I truly did my best. The afternoon we buried her, while everyone else left, my family stayed until the last layer of dirt was placed over the coffin and smoothed out and the flowers laid over the site. It was completely dark outside. I was fully aware that my own plot is right next to hers. It's a gorgeous cemetery and I have no problems realizing that I will be there too some day.
She had been declining the two years before her death - she had a series of mini strokes - her mind was jumbled - her tired body couldn't move - we couldn't get her medications right. It was tough. I watch my grandson by day and as soon as my daughter got home from work, I drove a half hour every night, each way, for eleven months to be with my mother. Plus the weekend was shopping for her, doing laundry for her, and of course, more visits. There for awhile I thought I was going to be the one to go first.
She wasn't a perfect mother, but who is perfect? I went through my 'stuff' with her. I came to realize through the years that while she was a bit strange, she did try her best, and she loved me deeply, as best she could. Sometimes I wondered how her parenting was, because she seemed so much to be a little girl that needed someone to take care of her, like she didn't get her needs met as a child. I understand her so much better now, it's weird.
Anyway at around 7pm that night, she opened her eyes that had been closed for almost a week, and looked at my niece, my daughter, and then me - she raised her right hand upward - as though she was reaching out to someone and then she was gone. I think Jesus was there to take her home. I really do believe that.
We walked out of the room for the nurses to fix the room up and take out the machines and when we got back 15 minutes later, the phone rang as we entered the room. Now I'm with my mother, who had died 15 minutes earlier, I picked up the phone and it was my husband. He told me that he had just gotten a call from my sister. She told him our dad had died.
Talk about shock.
My father lived in California. I knew he was sick, but he had been sick since June 1997 (remember my brother died in 1997 and on Father's day that year, my dad had suffered a life altering heart attack). But he wasn't in the act of actively dying that day like my mother. He was eating some lunch and he let out a cough, my sister was there and called to him and there was no answer. By the time she got to him seconds later, he had died of a heart attack. She called the ambulance and they tried to revive him, but they pronounced him dead at the hospital sometime around 3pm Californian time which is 7 pm Georgia time - roughly the time my mother had died. What a coincidence.
My sister is much younger than I am, so you can only imagine the pain she was in. Losing your father at the tender age of 25 is rough. She loved him and took such good care of him. He was a very lucky man to have her. It helped me too because that freed me to take care of my mother here in Georgia.
I must say it's overwhelming to mentally lose both parents within 15 minutes of each other.
No body really knows what to say to you. How long are you supposed to mourn? Who do you mourn first. How do you get to both funerals when it's bi coastal, one on Sunday afternoon and one on a Monday morning?
The weird thing was that my dad and mom had divorced in 1975. He moved to LA and was remarried with two children. My mom never remarried. Then 28 years later, they die at nearly the same time on the same day. One death quick and one death slow. I guess one never knows the way their life will end.
The one thing that I wanted to do after their death was to find out the odds of this happening. I searched and studied, but I never did come out with the odds.
My dad was well, let's say he was a very unusual man. We did not have much of a relationship until he suffered his major heart attack in 1997. It was my brother's death that allowed me to have a relationship and make peace with my dad. I feel bad that my brother never had that chance. I guess the heart attack literally changed my dad's heart. One year before he died, he told he he loved me and for the first time, I really believed him. All was forgiven and worked out before he died.
My daughter and I attended a ten week grief group, which by the way, is a great thing to do. I made two really awesome friends from there and we are still extremely close. It's like when someone dies you're in this club that no one else wants to be in. You're alone, yet you need to be be with someone so bad, that could be there just for you. The day we started grief group my husband found out he had prostrate cancer, which I am happy to say, he is a survivor of.
Four years ago, 2003, was the year from hell. Now I could have really gotten depressed. I think it was a direct gift from God that gave me the courage and power to go on. I was at a crossroads - I could become bitter asking why me. Or I could get better asking myself, why not me. I decided right then and there that I was going to take the high road. I wanted to be happy in spite of the pain I was in. I knew that I had done my best for my parents.
I was at a place where I wanted to learn how to live my own life, for the truth of it is when you spend all your time care taking someone else, you don't have much time to carve a life for yourself and I had spent 50 years by this point - care taking - at least one person if not more than one at the same time, for all those years.
In a way their death freed me. I also knew it was time I needed to say no to some other people in my life (no matter what the repercussions could be) and say yes to myself. When you come from where I came from and you decide to be free, you do have to be careful - it could be like the feral woman and you could run with reckless abandonment. Was there anyway to be both good and reckless?
Guess I was learning to grow up for the very first time.
Anyway, this day is for you mom and dad. I loved you both.

1 comment:

KWiz said...

As I started reading, your story became my story. Until I got to the part about your dad. I can't relate to both parents passing away, especially since the time frame was so close. But in your story seems to be one very good way to handle grief. I thank you so much for telling your story. I needed to read that. It is a wonderful source of reflection.

And thank you so much for the link love. I feel honored. I love your site - and I will certainly be linking back to you.

Thank you again for your willingness to be vulnerable...